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James Wharton makes a plea for Teesside to re-establish its true identity in his maiden speech as Broxtowe's new MP Ann Soubry promises to hold the Government to account

Wharton James Stockton South's new MP, James Wharton, gave his maiden speech in the Commons yesterday and spoke of the confusion over his area's identity:

"Teesside as a whole needs to re-establish its true identity. Half of my constituency has been in Yorkshire, half in Durham, all was once in Cleveland, and all was also once in Teesside, and now, confusingly, we are told that we are in the Tees valley, although I have yet to find the Tees valley on any standard highways map. In Stockton South we have Durham university and Teesside retail park, but we are served by Cleveland police and Tees Valley Unlimited, and we celebrate Yorkshire day. Should any hon. Members find that perplexing, I invite them to visit that wonderful part of the world, especially over the summer recess—I can assure Members on both sides of the House that even in the north-east, we do indeed have a summer. Of course, they could fly direct into Durham Tees Valley airport—or at least they could have done when we had a direct service, which is another issue I hope to address and be involved with over the coming years. Those of us who were born and raised in Stockton can occasionally be heard to joke that we do not have a county. That joke has worn thin over the years and I hope the new Government recognise the anomaly and work with myself and others to address the current confusion."

Soubry Anna Meanwhile, Anna Soubry, who gained Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire from Labour, found herself having to watch the clock as she caught the Deputy Speaker's eye towards the end of the debate:

"I know that the clock is against me, but I am no stranger to that. For many years, I worked in television so I am used to the ticking arm and the fierce direction of a floor manager and director who told me, in no uncertain terms, to shut up. I also worked as a criminal barrister for 16 years, so I am also used to someone firm in the chair telling me in even firmer terms to shut up, and on those occasions I never argued."

She did nonetheless find time to summarise what she hopes to achieve at Westminster:

"During my time here, it will be an honour and privilege to represent the people of Broxtowe, as others have said about their constituencies. There are many new Members and we bring diverse experiences to the House, but we all hope to play a real part here. We will challenge and hold the Government to account, and we will ask questions whenever we can, but most of all we will represent our constituents. Many of us were selected many years ago and getting here has been a long journey, so we are well aware of the responsibilities that we all bear. We will take great joy and pleasure in representing our constituents and do our very best for them by bringing forward the causes that they all hold dear."

Jonathan Isaby


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